I recently thought about the pressures we sometimes put on ourselves as writers to meet up with imagined expectations.
Aside from heralding the countdown to the Christmas holidays, November is known in writing circles as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) or National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). Aside from the cumbersome acronyms, there has been a lot of debate on whether the writing process is helped or hindered by writing under such strict timelines.
Last November, I took part in NaBloPoMo and published a new post every day that month. I had just started this blog the previous month and it was an opportunity for me to see how serious I was about my writing and to build up my reader base.
Even though I enjoyed NaBloPoMo, I knew that I was not likely to take part in it again. I have since created a consistent writing schedule that is convenient for me and which does not compromise my quality of writing.
I thought about taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, but I decided against it. The thought of producing well over a thousand words a day was too daunting, not because I couldn’t do it, but I just didn’t feel like I would produce my best work (I applaud everyone who has taken it on!). I have spent November doing a course on writing and storytelling, and I’ve been steadily building up the structure for my novel. I feel very pleased with what I have done so far, and even though I am unlikely to reach the 50,000-word count proposed by NaNoWriMo, I would have made much more progress than where I was this time last month.
I count that as a small victory.
Also, every few weeks, I take some time to do an audit of all that I have written during that period. I assess the quality of what I have written and think about how to improve my work. I also think about how successful I have been with promoting my work on Social Media, through my Email Newsletter and in my personal interactions. I have found that I have made some progress, especially with telling people that I am a writer.
I try to follow-up on the writing competitions which I have entered and the article pitches which I have sent out for consideration. I used to feel very stressed out when competition deadlines pass without any feedback, or when I don’t get any responses to my emails with article pitches. These days, I just shrug, cross those things of a list, and continue the process.
I know the above might sound tedious to some people, but I must say that focusing on the processes above really makes me happy!
After all, what’s the point of writing if it stresses me out instead of lifting my spirits?
Writing has become very important to me this year, mainly because it has given my life a whole new sense of purpose. However, it is a sense of purpose that is cushioned by my own contentment, not by what others might assume I should be doing as a writer.
Writing has made my life extraordinary, with ideas flowing through my mind faster than I can write them down. If I think about all the stress which has left me, the contentment I feel when I get positive feedback and the slight confusion I experience when I stumble on a poem which I wrote on a piece of paper months ago which actually looks very good, I know that I am on the right track.
Perhaps with time, I will be able to make a full-time career from writing. Until then, I will enjoy the smile which writing puts on my face and all the adventures and experiences which come along with it.
Thanks for reading.
©Ivie M. Eke 2016.
P.S I’m also working on another short story series, so watch this space!